Desmond heads to DL with torn left oblique (updated)

The Nationals had hoped that Ian Desmond would be able to battle through a lingering oblique injury and continue playing, providing pop in the middle of their order as well as his usual dazzling defense.

That won’t happen.

An MRI this morning revealed a tear in Desmond’s left oblique, and the All-Star shortstop will be placed on the 15-day disabled list, manager Davey Johnson said after today’s game.

“I was a little concerned (last night) and this morning when he said it felt like somebody hit him with a bat,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure what the recovery time is. But that’s a big loss.”

Desmond, who is hitting .286 with a team-best 17 home runs and 53 RBIs this season, remained upbeat about his situation after today’s game, saying he hopes to benefit from some rest and be ready to return for the stretch run.

He’s been dealing with the oblique for over a month, and while the discomfort had subsided a bit prior to the All-Star break, it’s started acting up again recently. The Nats have said previously that Desmond’s injury was a “strained oblique,” which technically is a tear, but the MRI showed enough for the team to shut him down for now.

“At the very beginning, it felt like this,” Desmond said. “And then it loosened up a little bit, and I was able to play through it up to the All-Star break. And then went home and rested. It felt great, and that first initial batting practice back (it felt great). And then it kind of came back a little bit. I was kind of waiting for it to go away a little bit, like it did the first time, and it just stayed. So, next page.”

Johnson seemed to second-guess himself a bit, saying he should have been a little more careful with Desmond recently. The Nats’ skipper let Desmond hit with the bases loaded in the sixth inning last night after the shortstop mentioned that his oblique was bugging him a bit.

“He was playing so good with it, hitting rockets,” Johnson said. “I just couldn’t read it.”

At this point, there’s no exact timetable on how long Desmond will be out, but Johnson said that his injury is similar to the oblique issue Mark DeRosa battled earlier this season. DeRosa essentially missed six weeks because of his oblique injury, although his rehab was extended towards the end because his father was ill and eventually passed away.

“I think he’ll feel this until the offseason,” DeRosa said. “I know he’s a lot younger than me but from everyone I’ve ever talked to and from my own personal experience now it’s still there. I still feel it.”

“He’s an old guy,” Desmond joked, when informed of the length of time DeRosa was out. “I’m still in pretty good shape, so I’m hoping it’s a little quicker than (that).”

The plan for now is to give Desmond two weeks of rest and then evaluate where he’s at. He’ll travel with the Nats on their upcoming road trip.

Outfielder Corey Brown will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse to replace Desmond on the 25-man roster. Brown was pulled from Syracuse’s game after the top of the first inning. He’ll meet the Nationals in New York, as they’re set to begin a three-game series with the Mets.

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